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Archive for the ‘SOF Week’ Category

Non-GSOF Member International SOF Week Booth Space Update

Thursday, August 24th, 2023

For International SOF Week 2024, all GSOF non-corporate partners will be entered into a lottery for available space. This process will ensure a fair and unbiased selection. If you have more questions about this, please visit the SOF Week website

SOF Week 23 – Tactical Breathable Drysuit

Thursday, May 18th, 2023

Swedish brand Waterproof is week known in the European diving community. They exhibited their Model M47 Tactical Breathable Drysuit.

Weighing 2 kg (size Med), theirs breathable drysuit is designed for full range of motion both under and above the surface. It’s made from 4-Layer AQUAMAX 330D Cordura Nylon with an inner layer of 20D Nylon Tricot. Fully seam sealed, it incorporates a seamless crotch, neck and wrist seals as well as a YKK AQUASEAL #10 light and flexible plastic dry zipper across the shoulders for donning and doffing.

Available in a nonmagnetic model, it comes in Black or NATO Green in male and female sizes XS-3XL (No 3XL in female sizing) with Tall and Short available upon request.

SOF Week 23 – Thales Soldier System

Thursday, May 18th, 2023

During SOF Week, Thales showed their Soldier System concept. They’ve got quite a bit of experience working on various Future Soldier programs throughout NATO but rather than showing an entire system, they were discussing individual systems which can be used alone or all together.

Rather than concentrating on PPE, they are offering an ecosystem which will work with any equipage to make command and control and sensors more useful to the individual Soldier. This allows them to be more adaptive to a wider range of customers, particularly those who are looking for niche capabilities or do not want to make a wholesale change.

We’ll start at the top and work our way down.

Quad Night Vision Goggles – These should get a lot of notice, if for no other reason than aesthetics.

However, there are other reasons to take note. First, it’s 100 grams lighter than other systems on the market. Second, it has a 126 degree field of view. Their main competitor has a 97 degree FOV. But, you’ll have to wait. Final versions won’t be available until 2025.

Heads Up Display – It’s a simple monocle device to display data from the End User Device.

IS1500 GPS Denied Navigator – Currently at TRL 6, this device utilizes bread crumbs and can reference them to correct errors.

Gun Shot Detection System App – Compatible with ATAK, it displays information from the gunshot detection system.

Pre-Shot Detection System – Although they didn’t go into details, this system looks for potential shooters.

XTRAIM Sight – The XTRAIM weapon sight we previewed at SHOT Show is now in production.

The operator can select direct view, full IR view, and outline mode. XTRAIM offers 500m target recognition with 250m PID of a man sized target. Those ranges are extended to 600m and 320m respectively when used in conjunction with a 3X magnifier. Here’s what the screen looks like in outline mode.

It features an uncooled sensor with 12 micron pitch and 640×480 resolution. Additionally, the operator can configure it in conjunction with a clip-on night vision (I2) sight.

Sophie ULTIMA handheld thermal imager – They displayed one other item. Although not worn on the Soldier, the Sophie ULTIMA handheld thermal imager is a cooled, 4-in-1 handheld target locator weighing 5.5 lbs. It can identify a tank at 6 km at night and at 7 km during the day.

In addition to a day capability it adds MWIR and their patented VisioLoc system offers GPS-denied Cat1 targeting. The VisioLoc Resilient Positioning Navigation (RPN) system uses an embedded goniometer combined with Geographic Information System (GIS) data. You use the camera to capture three points of interest and the system will determine your geo-location within five minutes.

Development of these systems continues, with new capabilities constantly under development. We will keep you posted as additional information becomes available.

SOF Week 23 – USSOCOM Weapons Update

Thursday, May 18th, 2023

The update to the USSOCOM weapons update is that there’s not much to update. Organized under PEO SOF Warrior, PM Lethality is led by LTC John M “Tosh” Lancaster who conducted a briefing on his portfolio during SOF Week. These are photographs of the slides he used.

Weapon program continuations from last year include the Lightweight Machinegun-Medium in .338 Norma Mag and Lightweight Machinegun-Assault in 6.5 CM. The LMG-M is underway with fielding anticipated in FY 26, while LMG-A is still in planning. The LMG-M will offer accurate fire at .50 ranges from a weapon lighter than an M240 firing 7.62 NATO. It is in my estimation the greatest single improvement to US small arms in a century.

As part of their service-like acquisition authorities, the command continues to look at Next Gen Suppressor Technologies, low-cost counter-defilade solutions, and precision energetics. For suppressors, they’d like to address the whole gamut: flash, heat, ground disturbance, and sound as well as particulate. On the energetics side, LTC Lancaster mentioned Slap Charges which are primarily used for breaching. This is not to be confused with SLAP (saboted light armor penetrator) ammunition which they are also interested in, particularly in 338 NM.

One interesting disclosure by LTC Lancaster was made during an acknowledgement of the US Army’s 6.8mm Next Generation Squad Weapons program; that US Army Special Operations Command will receive those weapons and ammunition from the Army. What he didn’t say is important. Considering that USASOC has the vast preponderance of SOF ground forces, if the M7 replaces the M4A1s in Army SOF arms rooms, those M4s will once again become SOF unique. Considering the investment, this will lead to a discussion on whether USASOC (and perhaps SOCOM writ large) wants to continue with the M4 or look for a new weapon and possibly caliber. They could reject 5.56mm NATO completely and fully adopt the NGSW weapon and ammunition, or look for a new lightweight carbine in some flavor of 5.56 or another intermediate cartridge (sorry fanboys, 6 ARC isn’t the answer, but that’s another discussion).

On the Visual Augmentation System or VAS front, LTC Lancaster explained that every 18 to 24 months he has an opportunity to transition a promising technology from the work being done by the Joint Acquisition Task Force in pursuit of the Hyper Enabled Operator objective, which is itself an off-shoot of the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) or so-called “Iron Man” program.

DANHUD is just such a project. The Day And Night Heads Up Display will integrate with ATAK and head protection systems to project relevant data to the eyes. LTC Lancaster wants to get the operator’s eyes off the screen and back up into the fight. While the Army continues to work on the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), DANHUD is moving at a much faster pace and is more focused on immediate operator needs.

They are also seeking a new Machine Gun Optic for use with LMG-M to be fielded in FY 26 along with the weapon.

Ground Organic Precision Strike System is also a carry over. Envisioned as a system of different sized strike capabilities, GOPSS offers the ground SOF element with its own precision fires.

Maritime Precision Engagement-Munition is managed by Program Management Office–Naval Special Warfare, also inder PEO SOF Warrior. As a surface-based analog to GOPPS, MPE-M delivers a Javelin-sized warhead from a loitering munition launched from a Naval Special Warfare surface craft. It features operator-in-the-loop and can be used against land and surface targets. Future improvements include non-kinetic payloads and Alt-PNT guidance modalities.

Above is a laundry list of capability enhancements USSOCOM is interested in, regardless of whether there is a formal program. Almost all of these are technology insertions into existing capabilities rather than completely new systems. However, the announcement for the Mortar Fire Control Device requirement should be available through SOFWERX soon.

On a final note, lethal droids are coming to SOF. Just as unmanned aerial systems like Switchblade have been weaponized, expect similar results for ground robots. For example, throw bots that explode and weaponized unmanned ground systems. Like with aerial systems, an operator will remain in the loop for final weapon release authority.

SOF Week 23 – Secumar

Tuesday, May 16th, 2023

This is the SECUVAC from German dive equipment manufacturer Secumar.

This two-part equipment is designed to protect an injured person during maritime operations. It consists of a polymer rescue sled for rigidity and ease of movement and a waterproof cover with zippers at three sides. The sled can also be hoisted. You can also insert an inflatable mattress between the sled and cover. Inside is a fleece blanket.

The face covering is clear to allow rescuers to monitor and communicate with the evacuee. It includes hoops to keep it off of the evacuee’s face.

Although the evacuee breathes what air is inside the SECUVAC, there is an inlet valve located at abdominal area and an outlet valve at the head area. This can be used to provide oxygen and positive buoyancy. There is also laser cut PALS webbing at select areas to attach gear.

SOF Week 23 – Roam Robotics

Tuesday, May 16th, 2023

Roam Robotics exhibited Forge, a pneumatically powered exoskeleton in the Darley Defense booth.

Forge has been under evaluation by the US Air Force where it’s shown to double the endurance and stregth of the wearer as well as reduce experienced g-forces by 50%. This last factor is particularly important when jumping down from heights. It preserves the natural range of motion and generates torque by forcing air through lightweight actuators at the knee to introduce torque. The brace provides stability and support to the knee.

During a recent evaluation at Wright-Patterson AFV, two C-17 Loadmasters were able to move a pallet that weighed about 3,500 pounds by themsleves, a load which normally takes four Airmen.

The modular power pack generates pressurized air for the system and can be controlled on the fly.

SOF Week 23 – Mystery Ranch Cold Weather Packs

Tuesday, May 16th, 2023

The Mystery Ranch “Arctic Ruck” was a case study under their Special Projects Service. Formally named the All-Terrain Maneuver, Cold Weather First (ATM CWF) Pack, it was developed in conjunction with Arctic Explorer and Cold Weather Expert John Huston who founded consulting firm and school Skadi Group. In the niche world of extreme cold weather operations, you couldn’t find a better participant in the design process. John has trained US, Canadian and Norwegian SOF.

One of the innovations John brought to the project is the Pull frame developed for pulling sleds. It features pull loops on both sides and is built to pull large loads without creating stress points on the body.

The yoke also has a quick release buckle. Additionally, all of the fasteners and zipper pulls were designed with wearing mittens in mind in operations down to -60 deg F.

-Removable flap lid with zippered pocket and pass throughs to accommodate jump systems
-Top-loading spindrift collar to main bag
-Zipper port at top of body panel opens from either side for antennae, cables, and/or hydration
-Fully adjustable, toolless Futura yoke telescopes to fit any torso length
-Yoke has quick-release buckle with backup ladderlock
-Side pass through sleeves accommodate skis, rifle butts or other long items
VELCRO on lid for identification and patches
-Removable flap lid with zippered pocket and pass throughs to accommodate jump systems
-Loops for included accessory straps
-Three MOLLE attach, removable, zippered pockets with toggle pulls
-Three lower external pockets with drawstring spindrift collars
-Grommeted pockets and main bag
-Two compression straps on each side
-Six rows of PALS web for MOLLE attach accessories
-Interior radio sleeve

Weighing 8.8 lbs empty, the Arctic Pack has a capacity of 5535 cu in. Naturally, it’s offered in MultiCam Arctic pattern.

SOF Week 23 – Ryvid Next Gen Combat Vehicles

Monday, May 15th, 2023

There were quite a few vehicles on display at SOF Week, including several motorcycles. The Ryvid offering caught my eye due to their approach. They offer their electric vehicles as bikes but have developed a Quad concept as well.

This US brand’s base bike is the Anthem which features a clutchless direct drive transmission and a top speed of over 80 mph and range of up to 200 miles per charge.

Submersible up to 1 meter, the bike offers 200 Nm (148 ft-lbs) of max torque from a 50 kW (67 hp) electric motor.

USSOCOM plans to evaluate the bike during the upcoming Technical Experimentation (TE 23-3) event in June.